Roundup: Lawrence Mooney sues SCA, Charlotte Bellis, Peter van Onselen

Lawrence Mooney

• Marcus Paul, Too Hot To Handle, and Streaming Wars

Business of Media

Peter van Onselen named in political reporter’s case against Network 10

Press gallery journalist Tegan George has launched Federal Court action against her employer, Network 10, alleging it engaged in unlawful conduct that breached the Fair Work Act, Bianca Hall.

Political editor Peter van Onselen is named in the claim, as are several other senior employees of the network.

Court documents were filed on Monday and have been served on Network 10.

The case pits a political reporter against the combined power of the network and one of its star employees, van Onselen, who regularly appears on The Project and is contributing editor at The Australian.

George has worked from November 2019 as a political reporter in Network 10’s Parliament House bureau. She has been on leave since June last year.

Workplace lawyer Josh Bornstein is acting for George. A Network 10 spokeswoman said: “As this is an employee matter, we will not be commenting.”

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Nine’s 27,000 donation to Liberal Party revealed in AEC report

Nine Entertainment Co donated $27,500 to the Liberal party in the last financial year as part of the company’s previous affiliation to a business forum, reports News Corp’s Jess Malcolm.

It comes after former Nine Entertainment Co chief executive Hugh Marks in 2019 hosted a $10,000 per head Liberal Party fundraising event on the set of the network’s Today show raising questions about its impact on the Nine newspapers’ charter of editorial independence.

The 2019 event, which raised $700,000 for the Liberal party, was attended by several senior politicians including Scott Morrison, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, then-Trade Minister Simon Birmingham and sparked an angry backlash from the company’s newspaper journalists and the media union.

The $27,500 payment made in the last financial year was made under its former chief executive Hugh Marks who has since resigned, and the company has since implemented a policy against donating to political parties.

“The payment to the Australian Business Network was made under previous management when Nine was also a member of the Federal Labor Business Forum,” a Nine spokesperson said. “Nine has since implemented a blanket rule against donating to politically-affiliated business networks.”

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News Brands

NZ allows pregnant journo to leave Afghanistan

A New Zealand journalist who is pregnant and stranded in Afghanistan is finally allowed to return to her home, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says, reports AFP.

Charlotte Bellis was told she had been granted a place in New Zealand’s strict quarantine system, known as Managed Isolation and Quarantine, Mr Robertson said on Tuesday.

“There is a place in MIQ for Miss Bellis and I urge her to take it up,” Robertson said.

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Lawrence Mooney sues Triple M for more than $1 million in damages

Former Triple M Sydney breakfast host Lawrence Mooney is suing his employer for more than $1m in damages after he was sacked from the station less than one year into his fixed-term ­contract, reports News Corps Sophie Elsworth.

Mooney is taking legal action against Southern Cross Austereo, the owner of Triple M, in the NSW Supreme Court after the company dismissed him last November and provided him little explanation as to why he was abruptly shown the door.

The comedian was hired by the station in 2019 to host the Moonman in the Morning breakfast show alongside co-hosts Jess Eva and Chris Page.

In court documents seen by The Australian, Mooney had a two-year contract to run from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022, and his remuneration was a base fee of $1m plus GST per annum, which equates to $83,333 plus GST a month.

The 56-year-old was also entitled to incentive fees of up to $540,000 plus GST annually.

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2SM radio host Marcus Paul deletes social media amid investigation

Radio broadcaster Marcus Paul appears to have removed both his personal and professional social media as bosses continue an investigation into an inappropriate on-air segment, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

Paul remains off air for a second week as 2SM executives look into the incident, where listeners were stunned as he referenced nine-year-old schoolgirl Charlise Mutten’s death during a bizarre quiz.

When contacted, management said Paul “will remain off air until the investigation is completed”.

Paul meanwhile looks to have deleted his personal Facebook page, as well as his ‘Marcus Paul in the Morning’ public profile.

“Removing himself from Facebook is probably one of the smarter moves he has made,” an industry observer noted.

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Disney+, HBO Max and others can get new customers, keeping them is hard

Streaming-video services get a surge of subscribers when they launch a hotly anticipated show or movie. But many of these new customers unsubscribe within a few months, according to new data, a challenge even for the industry’s deep-pocketed giants, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The data, which subscriber-measurement company Antenna provided to The Wall Street Journal, illustrate the extent to which the streaming wars require all players to consistently churn out popular and often expensive programming to keep fickle subscribers satisfied.

Major releases have been a reliable driver of streaming subscriptions, particularly for newer services. Walt Disney Co. ’s Disney+, for instance, won far more new US subscribers when the musical Hamilton came out than any other day since early 2020, when the service was still getting off the ground.

AT&T Inc.’s HBO Max saw a jump in U.S. sign-ups when Wonder Woman 1984 was released on Christmas Day 2020, according to Antenna data.

So did Apple Inc.’s Apple TV+ on the day Greyhound, a World War II movie starring Tom Hanks, came out in July 2020.

Many of them don’t stick around very long. Roughly half of US viewers who signed up within three days of the release of Hamilton, Wonder Woman 1984 and Greyhound were gone within six months, Antenna data show.

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Too Hot To Handle: How Brisbane student Georgia Hassarati became a global Netflix star

After being plucked out of Brisbane’s Instagram ranks, Georgia Hassarati has become the breakout star of Netflix’s top-rating series Too Hot To Handle, reports News Corp’s Amy Price.

The third season of the hit reality series premiered globally on January 19, featuring Hassarati as one of a group of attractive singles from around the world isolated together in Turks and Caicos, where they are banned from all kissing and sexual contact.

Hassarati, who kissed three people during a challenge in the premiere episode before breaking the rules by kissing co-star Jaz Holloway, has seen her following skyrocket jumping from 60,000 Instagram followers to 631,000 in 10 days.

“I received a message from someone on the casting team on social media. Pleasure Island sounded really fun! I was told it would be an adventure, I’d be surrounded by gorgeous single guys and girls and I’m always up for trying something new,” she said.

As filming began, the cast was told they were actually contestants on Too Hot To Handle, which meant any kissing or sexual contact would deduct from their $100,000 prize pool.

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